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Published: March 13th 2011
Well our time in Amsterdam has flown by at the rate of knots, before you could say bongs and clogs our time here has come to an end. Amsterdam has been everything you imagine it can be, quaint, orderly and cute. Landing into the fabulously organized Sciphol Airport you can already feel what the city will offer you.
The streets are lined with ajoined three storey high houses (no more, no less) with white roof awnings and red bricks making it something out of a postcard. Add to that the mix the calm canals and pretty bridges and it then makes the place the perfect Hollywood back drop.
During our visit we feel like we’ve done it all – Rembrandt, Heineken and Anne Frank have all been paid homage too, all have been intriguing in their own way. (Bet you didn’t know that the “e’s” in the Heineken logo are meant to be smiling faces did you?) Add to this two visits to see the legendary Ajax play and we have been two very happy bunnies.
As part of the visit we hired bikes for five days and it was from that point on that we moved from
being sightseeing tourist (of which there are thousands) to true Amsterdammer. Ambling along the backstreets discovering small cafes tucked down laneways, looking longingly into the beautiful cake shops and taking in the strong wafts of legal pot, was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. For a city with over 600,000 bikes it is something everyone has to do whilst they are here – and you can always treat yourself with a cone full of French fries (even though they are Belgian originally) with the amazing Joppie (said youppy) sauce…I will never order mayo and ketchup ever again!
The people here are lovely and helpful in a truly reserved European way, we both found it interesting that the city is completely bi-lingual – we are yet to find someone who didn’t speak English. It is also a very multi-cultural place with all the colours of the world represented, not to mention the foods…on Susan’s brothers street alone we could dine on Moroccan, Surinamese, Indonesian, Indian…the list goes on…
Looking beyond its reputation of the land of clogs, red lights and tulips, Amsterdam is so much deeper than that. A city with an extraordinarily rich history as the
once cultural leader of Europe it also boasts a city that prides itself on openness and equality, where different creeds and colours can live together without prejudice and with all the support they need. It is a city where everything is in order, from the on board ticket conductors who have their own little enclosed offices on the trams to the rubbish bins where household trash goes straight down special shoots to underground collection tunnels.
If we were to be asked what the highlights were, it would be just what we say most of the time, escape the crowds and get lost in the back streets. On our first walk into Dam Square it was just what we thought, hundreds of people buying clog slippers and bongs and lining up for the over rated and expensive Madame Taussauds - is that the real Amsterdam? No, it's the small broodje haring (Herring Sandwiches) and flower stalls.
It has definitely been a great experience and we have been spoilt whilst staying with Susan’s brother and his girlfriend. Much wine and beer has been consumed along with way too many calories, we will definitely be back!
Next stop the Emerald Isle,
the land of 40 shades of green, the place where leprechauns and Guiness lives. Take a guess? Yup Ireland, can't wait, and we should be just in time for St Paddy's day!
(N.B Lekker = delicious, lovely, great, fantastic, handsome etc our new word of choice! We did learn a few others, but we won't tell you!)
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